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Nokia joins Sprint Nextel's WiMax effort

Posted: 09 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiMAX? 4G? wireless? mobile? Nokia?

Sprint Nextel put another key building block in its WiMax strategy in place as it announced that Nokia Corp. will be a key infrastructure and consumer device provider for the wireless service provider's future so-called 4G network.

Nokia will provide infrastructure including its Flexi WiMax base transceiver stations in addition to developing WiMax-enabled mobile devices, including multimedia computers and Internet tablets.

Nokia will join Sprint's initial partners Motorola and Samsung Electronics in the ambitious effort. Sprint claims it is building the biggest WiMax deployment in the world. Partnering with Sprint will also put Nokia in the mix with Qualcomm, which is involved in bitter litigation with Nokia. Qualcomm is the key player in rolling out Sprint's CDMA2000 EV-DO Rev A wireless network.

Asked whether the two technologiesWiMax and EV-DOwill compete with each other, Sprint spokesman John Polivka said the firm is rolling out the networks to be "complementary."

"Our WiMax is a metropolitan network that is data centric," he said. "When [subscribers] leave the metro area, the signal reverts to EV-DO Rev A."

Sprint has struggled to meld Nextel, which it acquired several months ago, into its business model. Nextel's top management left Sprint late last year after the firm posted disappointing financial reports.

Polivka said the merger with Nextel is valuable in part because Nextel has provided significant spectrum in the 2.5GHz band. "It's been synergistic," he said. "We already have 85 percent coverage."

Sprint is already well along in deploying its EV-DO 3G network, covering some 100 million Americans.

Polivka said Sprint has a "very aggressive schedule" underway for the rollout of WiMax. The service is slated to get underway in two unnamed major markets by the end of 2007 and the bulk of the nationwide WiMax market is expected to be in service during 2008.

Sprint is leveraging its current infrastructure in towers and backhaul connections in rolling out the WiMax service. The EV-DO network currently addresses 80 million persons in 21 major markets and the entire network is scheduled to be widely upgraded by the end of the third quarter. Once the WiMax network is activated nationally, the EV-DO net will serve as backup to it.

While Sprint is investing heavily in WiMaxas much as $3 billion in the next two yearsit also is asking its partners in the venture to invest in the new technology. "Nokia shares Sprint Nextel's mobile broadband vision," said the firm's president and CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, in a statement. "WiMax is an ideal technology for open Internet models in all major global markets."

Sprint said it will team up with Nokia to develop mobile services and applications as well as to conduct various marketing campaigns.

The long-range goal of its WiMax effort, according to Sprint statements, is to develop a range of mobile WiMax-enabled chipsets and modules to operate with an array of portable data, multimedia, and consumer devices. Most of them will be designed to interoperate with each other seamlessly.

- W. David Gardner
InformationWeek




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